Ephrem Boudreau was born in River Bourgeois in 1905. After his classical studies from 1922 to 1928, he spent three years at agricultural school. Here he earned bachelors’ degrees in arts and one in agricultural science. In addition, he acquired a diploma in Social Sciences from l’Universite de Laval in 1935.
He wrote Riviere Bourgeois from which this history is taken and translated.
Obviously Hutchinson’s Directory of 1864-1865 recorded the names of only the most important people. There were as many as five merchants at River Bourgeois in 1864-1865. It is unlikely that that this number has been surpassed since that time. In reality these “merchants,” were, for the most part, owners of schooners who hired Acadians, skilled sailors and who, in return for their services, earned food and provisions brought from Halifax after their catches of fish had been sold.
A few years later, the Canada Directory of 1871 recorded the names of Acadian families in addition to the English families. The following are the Acadian names: Béranger, Jean, teacher, Boucher, Burke, Cordeau, Cotty (Côté), Curry (Carré), Dugas, Fougère, Landry, LeBlanc, and Robertson. English names included: Bissett, Boyd, MacLean, Urquart.
Fifty years later other names were added to the Canada Directory list of 1871. The following names could be found in the parish around 1920: Beranger, Bonin, Bouchard, Boudreau (originally Boudrot), Bourque, Cordeau, Deslauriers (from Tracadie), Fougère, Goyetche, Landry, LeBlanc, MacDonald, McPhee, Pâté, Petitpas, Robertson, Ranson, Digout, Doucet (from Cheticamp), Samson, Thibeau, Touesnard, and Young.English names included: Bissett, Boyd, Fitzgerald, Grimes, LeVesconte, McLean, McNeil, Murphy, and Madden.
In the lists published in 1950 and 1956 by the priest of the time are found roughly the same Acadian names. On the other hand, foreign names increased considerably in the space of some 20 years. In other words, we see the progressive anglicization of the population.
Already many young Acadians no longer speak French. Here are the non-French names found in the lists in question: Bower, Bowser, Boyd, Fitzgerald, Grimes, Gillis, Lainville, Martens, MacIntyre, Madden, Morrow, Morrison, O’Connell, Peperkemp, Pettigrew, Rheberg, Smith, Smythe, Stone, Stevens, Van Mulukum, and Verhagen. The number of English and foreign names is now about equal to the Acadian names.
In 1978 the number of English names reached into the forties and far outnumbered the Acadian names. This progressive invasion into the parish of anglophones and foreigners demonstrated that the parish had reached an advanced stage of Anglicization. The same phenomenon can be found in all the Acadian parishes in the region. For 50 years in these parishes French was the dominant language. It is not as if the older Acadians were able to speak English.
The list of these names taken from the telephone book (Cape Breton Telephone Directory, 1978) is of little benefit and not appropriate to produce.
The old Fitzgerald and Morrison families, respectively Irish and Scottish, have not been part of River Bourgeois for many years.
The custom of modifying names or replacing them with other names is universal and applies to all peoples. Sometimes the name is abbreviated as in Zina foe Alexina, Citée for Félicité; sometimes the pronunciation is changed: Judique for Judith, Simoune for Simon; Désiré became Die, Honoré, Naré; others are truly mysteries: where did the following come from, for example: Patoune for Pacien, Daille for Isaïe, Guedou for Damien, etc?
In some cases it is mere fantasy.